By TAYLOR HARTZ
Vandals and thieves have been targeting grave sites at St. Thomas Cemetery, with several families reporting that statues have been stolen from their relatives’ gravesites. A string of burglaries has occurred at the cemetery since the start of the year, with four angels being reported stolen since Jan. 1.
Sgt. Jeffrey Dobratz of the Southington Police Department said that according to reports, two marble angels were stolen on Jan. 31, a family statue was reported stolen on Feb. 2, and a marble headstone was reported stolen on Feb. 20.
According to reports, similar instances of theft or vandalism to angels and statues at the cemetery were also reported between May 1, 2015 and Nov. 1, 2015.
“We’ve been doing a lot of security in the overnight hours,” said Sgt. Dobratz of the cemetery at 209 Belleview Ave. “Several times a night we’re doing extra checks.”
Pat Giannatteo’s family has been the victim of two thefts this year.
The Giannatteo family told police that two marble angels went missing between Jan. 29 and Jan. 31. The angels had been displayed at a plot that has been used for five members of the Giannatteo family.
“It’s unbelievable what it looked like then compared to now,” said Giannatteo. “It’s rather upsetting to see these gone.”
Another resident, Tosh Tarfano, said his family has been the victim of four acts of theft and vandalism over the past four years. Tarfano said that in 2012, the hand was broken off of an angel statue at a family member’s gravesite. The following year, an angel statue was stolen.
This year, two angels were stolen from a Tarfano family plot, totaling more than $8,000 in property loss.
Both families have reached out to St. Thomas Church to request that a gate be installed at the cemetery, but reported being told that it would be too costly to monitor a cemetery gate.
St. Thomas Church could not be reached for comment by press time.
Tarfano said he is disappointed by the lack of security, since his family has purchased “perpetual care” for their family’s plots.
“The family is upset,” said Tarfano. “There are a lot of families that are upset that this is happening.”
Sgt. Dobratz said the Southington Police Department will continue to monitor the cemetery over night, and police encouraged residents to report any thefts, vandalism, or suspicious activity.
“If anyone is driving by the area and sees anything that looks out of the ordinary or suspicious don’t hesitate to call us,” said Dobratz.
To contact police with information or to report theft or vandalism, call (860) 621-0101. For the anonymous tip line, call (860) 276-1234.